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Melbourne bar owner jailed for jumping WA border to attend AFL Grand Final blames financial troubles

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An imprisoned football fan has blamed “financial hardship” for breaking WA’s strict boundary rules so he could attend the AFL Grand Final, despite splashing on a multi-million dollar house this year.

Prahran restaurant and bar owner Hayden Burbank, 49, was sentenced to at least three months in prison after traveling from Melbourne to Perth and violating the state’s strict border regime.

Burbank’s attorney Andrew Tehan blamed the pandemic-induced financial hardship for the blatant breach, as the businessman was given a 10-month suspended prison sentence in Perth’s Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

Despite Burbank’s apparent financial troubles, he was still able to raise enough money to buy a lavish $4.8 million Toorak home earlier this year.

Hayden Burbank, 49, (pictured left) has blamed financial difficulties for violating WA’s strict border closures to attend the AFL Grand Final

Mr Burbank spent $4.8 million on a lavish property in June (pictured)

Mr Burbank spent $4.8 million on a lavish property in June (pictured)

The two-storey house on Ross Street was bought by Burbank in June after he left his home on Mount St in Prahran.

He also reportedly offered to host an exclusive, all-paid party at his cocktail bar for the women, families and players of Melbourne Football Club.

His lawyer told the court he was under “considerable financial pressure,” The Herald Sun reports.

Burbank, who drives a flashy Range Rover, said he was in the midst of a financial crisis, forcing him to close his Morris Jones cocktail bar for 225 days during the pandemic.

His lawyer also claimed the 49-year-old had only been in contact with his mother, ailing father and an unnamed ‘bubble friend’ during Melbourne’s grueling sixth lockdown.

“The mental toll of the lockdown has been significant,” Tehan said.

The court was told that the former Grammar student from Melbourne and Carey had also been diagnosed with bipolar, ADHD and depression in 2016.

The two-storey Ross Street property in Melbourne's Toorak is owned by Mr Burbank (pictured)

The two-storey Ross Street property in Melbourne’s Toorak is owned by Mr Burbank (pictured)

A medical report submitted to the court suggested Mr Burbank was in a “state of close hyperfocus” as a result of his ADHD, which contributed to his decision to travel to WA.

The court also heard that Mr Burban was forced to stop seeing his $550-per-session psychiatrist because of the financial toll of the pandemic.

During his Grand Final expedition, Mr. Burbank and his friend, CFO Mark Babbage, 38, stayed at an Airbnb in Bunker Bay, an exclusive spot south of Perth.

After learning that they were wanted by the police, they checked into the Pullman Bunker Bay Resort before being arrested on September 28.

The pair faced Perth Magistrates Court on Wednesday via a video link from Hakea Prison.

They pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to comply with an instruction and one count of gaining advantage through fraud.

The 49-year-old claimed to have significant financial pressures, but forgot to mention the $4.8 million house he bought in Toorak this year.

The 49-year-old claimed to have significant financial pressures, but forgot to mention the $4.8 million house he bought in Toorak this year.

Mr Burbank and Mr Babbage had arrived in Perth on September 22 after a travel pass application revealed they had spent the past 14 days in the Northern Territory.

Forged documents were in the name of both men, including an ANZ bank statement, driver’s license and rental agreements with a residential address in NT.

The men had flown from Melbourne to Darwin just eight days earlier and were therefore ‘risky’ travelers who were not allowed to enter WA under the controlled border regime.

The pair attended the grand final at Optus Stadium on September 25 and were pictured in the dressing rooms with Melbourne player Alex Neal-Bullen after the drought-breaking win in the premiership.

The photo was posted to the AFL’s official Instagram account.

Attorney Seamus Rafferty, representing Babbage, acknowledged the offense was serious but urged the court to impose a suspended prison sentence.

He told the court that his client, a first-time offender, was “deeply remorseful.”

“People got excited about who entered the grand final, especially a team that hasn’t been successful for a long time,” he said.

“You get excited, you don’t think you’re hurting anyone, you don’t have Covid… you make a terrible decision and that’s what it is. It’s a horrible decision, there’s a degree of cheating in it.

“It’s thoughtless, it’s insensitive to a degree because we all know we’re in a pandemic. It’s the old ‘she’s right’…that’s really the thought process.’

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